Worldwide Wednesday: Pray for Jordan

Worldwide Wednesday: Pray for “J” Jordan

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” 1 John 5:14

Welcome to Worldwide Wednesday. Each week during the year of 2017, we are praying through the alphabet. Today we land on “J” and we are going to pray for Jordan. So what is all the fuss about Jordan? Jordan is the land where our founding fathers walked…Abraham, Isaac, Moses. But more than that, the Jordanian society is multi-ethnic – a phenomenon which is also reflected by the monarchy. Jordan hosts large groups of refugees, mostly from Iraq and Syria, which leads to economic, political and religious pressure, all of which is potentially destabilizing. The number of Christians in the country has been declining for half a century. For a long time, Jordan was one of the most liberal countries in the region in terms of freedom of religion. However, the tide seems to be turning for Christians – especially for Christian converts from a Muslim background (MBBs) who suffer the most persecution. Believers here often face interrogations from police or even abduction by family members.

Jordan

Geography

Area: 89,206 sq km

Lies on the eastern bank of the Jordan River. Agriculture and population are concentrated near the river. Most of the country is desert.

Population: 6,472,392    Annual Growth: 3.06%

Peoples: 21 (67% unreached) All peoples
Unreached Peoples Prayer Card
Official language: Arabic    Languages: 16 All languages

Religion

Largest Religion: Muslim

Religion                 Pop % Ann Gr
Christians 144,982 2.24 0.4
Evangelicals 19,116 0.3 3.3
Muslim 6,243,917 96.47

Jordanian women take part in a mass prayer for rainfall in Amman December 3. The Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs urged Jordanians to pray on Thursday for rainfall to help boost reserves in the water-parched Kingdom and calm farmers worried about their crops.
AJ/NS

Challenges for Prayer

Religious freedom could be a casualty amid rising religious tensions. This nation is a centre for many Christian activities and ministries, and much Christian work in the Middle East would suffer were a setback to occur in Jordan. A number of converts find life difficult – pressure comes from family, work and society. Emigration is often seen as an obvious and safe option. Pray for the freedom to proclaim the gospel and for followers of Jesus to be able to remain in Jordan.

Ministry opportunities for foreign Christians are under threat, but remain important. A crackdown on Islamist extremism resulted in some Christian ministries being shut down and visas denied. Several agencies are involved in a wide range of activities, usually supporting and enhancing the national Church and meeting humanitarian needs. Jordan also hosts a language school wherein many learn Arabic for their service in the Arab world. Pray that these expatriates’ lives may commend the Lord Jesus and gain witness opportunities.

http://www.operationworld.org/jord

Jordan is categorized as a restricted nation, where Christians are persecuted or oppressed as a result of government policy, and a staggering 14 of the 21 people groups in Jordan have not heard the Gospel. While Islam serves as the official religion, the constitution allows for religious freedom as long as Islamic law and public morality are not violated. Though legally protected, many new followers of Christ are pressured by the Muslim society and emigrate. This results in fewer people remaining to bear witness to the transforming power of the Gospel. While the churches within Jordan generally have good relations with each other, only about ten percent of house churches have meaningful relationships with Muslims. Media ministry is proving to be effective in this nation, specifically Christian satellite TV and radio broadcasts. Pray for the unreached to hear the Good News and be equipped to effectively minister to those around them.

http://prayercast.com/jordan.html

Thank you!

 

Monday Motivation: Run Shirley Run!

“Run, Forrest, Run.” Remember the movie Forrest Gump? He says, “Now you wouldn’t believe me if I told you, but I can run like the wind blows.

.”

My mom, Shirley Adkins, lives this way – she keeps on running. She decided to start running races at age 70 and hasn’t stopped. What does it take to keep on running? Not a runner, eh? Okay. For some of us, we need to consider how to start. We can ask what does it take to get going? How can we keep moving? Remember – you can’t move a car that is in park. Be willing to put your goals into motion. This works by applying two things:

  1. Resolve: My mom is determined not to give up. Webster defines resolve: “a firm course of action.” There are days she doesn’t feel like going to the gym or going on a jog, yet Mom keeps her schedule. I am impressed with how she implements her plan. Day in, day out, she follows through with her commitment to work out no matter how she feels.

“Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race market out for us.” Hebrews 12:1

  1. Renew: My mom resets her mind everyday through prayer time with God and studying His word. She asks God for help, even after dad passed away, mom continued and even increased her work outs.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

Do not quit! You can do it. Yes, stay at it until you are done. The finish line is not that far off. Haven’t started yet? Okay. It is never too late. Begin today! Even if you are not a runner, just put your foot to the pavement and start moving. When you feel like giving up, instead choose to keep going. As you keep your eyes on the goal, your worry will change to worship, your fear to faith and your hang-ups to hope.

Let’s pray, Heavenly Father, thank you for helping us throw off the sin that is holding us back from the race. Thank you Jesus for reminding us to keep our eyes set on you, our Goal.  You are our inspiration to stay in the race. Thank you Lord Jesus for showing us how to finish well. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Monday Motivation: Stillness

OK Monday Let's Do This

Monday Motivation: Stillness

Our best Monday Motivation begins with a choice to turn to God. When we focus our eyes on him, we can process and actually do what Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know I am God.” Being still before God means to cease striving, stop activity, to rest in him. Our Heavenly Father loves it when we invite his presence and take time to sit completely motionless before him. In our cessation of activity, we anticipate his voice to speak into our lives. Let’s pay attention to Him. Here are a few wonderful verses to help you get through your Monday. Won’t you take five, be still and listen?

Meditate on these five verses as you seek the Lord on a Monday morning:

  1. The Lord will give you rest when you feel tired.
    Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest. ­Matthew 11:28-29
  2. The Lord will give you strength when you feel weak.
    Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard?
    The Lord is the everlasting God;
    he created all the world.
    He never grows tired or weary.
    No one understands his thoughts.
    He strengthens those who are weak and tired
    . –  “Isaiah 40:28-29
  3. The Lord will give you peace when you feel anxious.
    The peace that Christ gives is to guide you in the decisions you make; for it is to this peace that God has called you together in the one body.  “Isaiah 40:28-29”]
  4. The Lord will give you confidence when you feel uncertain.
    Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will show you the right way. “Proverbs 3:5-6 ”
  5. The Lord will give you hope when you feel hopeless.
    May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in him, so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit. “Romans 15:13”

http://news.americanbible.org/blog/entry/bible-blog/5-bible-verses-for-beating-the-monday-blues

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for reminding me to be still. Quiet my mind, heart and soul to rest in you. Give me supernatural energy as you share my yoke. Give me strength when I feel weak. Give me peace when I feel anxious. Give me confidence when I feel uncertain. Give me hope when I am lost. Thank you Lord for motivating me on this Monday. In Jesus’ name, Amen

 

Spiritual Fatherlessness

father

“Be careful, sweetie,” my dad’s strong voice cautioned me to avoid the object in the road. He’d just removed the training wheels on my Schwinn, so even though I was seated securely on the banana seat and both hands on the handlebars, the front tire still wobbled a little. I focused intently on the path ahead. “Yes, Father,” I said. I veered to the left just a little and swerved to avoid the obstacle.

“Father is one of the most familiar and commonly used name of God.” —from my soon-to-be-released devotional, Experiencing God Through His Names

However, some cannot relate to God as a caring, tender, and involved dad, like mine, because they’ve been disappointed by their own negative personal paternal experiences. So what’s the big deal about “spiritual fatherlessness”? A lot. According to a recent study, “15 million American children — one in three — live without a father. In the past decade, families with two parents in the home has dropped significantly.  From poor academic achievement and teenage pregnancy to drug use and crime, most social problems cannot be properly understood without considering the absence of fathers in homes. Many of the social problems we face are a direct result of the fatherless home. Even as the country added 160,000 families with children, the number of two-parent households decreased by 1.2 million.”

Spiritual fatherlessness causes a breach between the natural father, spiritual father, and heavenly father. The devil destroys harmony between our most valued relationships. This is not necessarily a physical breach, but a spiritual battle waging war against those that mean the most to us. I am the firstborn of four children; my dad always called me princess. I was the apple of his eye. However, for a few years, Dad and I exchanged only harsh words, disagreement, and disconnection. Unfortunately, I was unaware of the enemy tactics to divide our family. I was rebellious and un-submissive and could not respond to my father’s attempts to show me his love. It’s interesting that this is one of the final verses in the Old Testament: ” . . . and he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their father lest I come and strike the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:6). Truly a sign of the times.

At seventeen, I was careening deep into drug addiction. I stayed high as much as possible, trying to fill the emptiness in my life with the highest high or the cutest guy while my need for affection only increased. I couldn’t wait to move out of my parents’ home. My family pulled strings to get me a volunteer summer job at a Christian camp. The camp staff assigned me lists of chores, such as washing hundreds of dishes in the mess hall, raking piles of pine needles around the campgrounds, and even moving logs around the outdoor campfire ring.

Whenever I complained or threw fits over doing my chores or smoked cigarettes and dope, the camp staff said, “Love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8) Their words, repeated over and over, immersed me for two weeks. The words rang in my ears, I couldn’t get the phrase off my mind. The staff didn’t tell me to change anything about my appearance, attitude, or addictions. Instead, they showed me what the invitation of love looked like. They were kind; they offered the true love of God without forcing me to accept it.

As a youngster in Sunday school, I’d learned Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” After two weeks of experiencing how “love covers a multitude of sins,” I embraced it. Submitting to the overwhelming love of God, I allowed His abundant love to cover my multitude of sins. One night in my cabin, I submitted to the overwhelming love of Father God. He had reached out to me, and I, a most unlikely choice, finally grasped His hand. His abundant love did cover my multitude of sins. I accepted the invitation to live a new life. My life was transformed, and I was given a fresh start and the divine connection to my Heavenly Father was restored. But there was still work to do.

1. I had to communicate with God as my Perfect Father.

The breach in my relationship with God could only be restored through the Son. The blessing came when I came to know God as my Perfect Father. I began to believe God’s love could cover the things that held me captive: drugs and alcohol, lying and stealing, promiscuity and drug dealing. It was finally clear: I didn’t need to clean up my act before coming to God. He loved me passionately just the way I was. James 1:17 says, “Every Good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

2. I had to invite God to heal my father wound.

I was searching for meaning, purpose, and identity in things and people that could never fill my God-shaped void. In God there is no lack. God does not want the enemy to rob us of blessing, destiny, purpose. I asked God heal my father-wound caused by my own decision to turn from my earthly and my Heavenly Father’s will. God showed me how to release every disappointment that had been imagined or feared and to put my trust in Him. We cannot go back and re-write history, but we can get to the place where we allow God to heal us. This takes trust and transparency.

James 5:16says, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

3. I had to ask God to help me find a spiritual father, be a father.

Once we allow God to heal our father wound, we will want to share our joy with others. It helps to keep accountable and also to share our victories and defeat. We get to choose our own spiritual parents. Let God help you find a father and be a father.

God wants us to show the world of “spiritual fatherlessness” what it means to be included the family of God. So let’s share how wonderful it is to be loved by a perfect Heavenly Father. And it will make all the difference in our destiny and theirs, too. Psalm 68:5–6 says, “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing but the rebellious live in a sun scorched land.”

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June Update

June is here. It’s time to celebrate. Join me as I honor my husband, Dr. Jim Turner, for his many contributions to our community and to my personal health, well-being, and future.

“Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.” Psalm 11:1

jimturner

Dr. Jim Turner, my husband, was recently rewarded and received recognition in The Best of Bakersfield Lifestyle Magazine for Best Chiropractor.

jimturner1

Dr. Jim Turner has dedicated forty years of service to helping people get well as a caring and compassionate doctor. Jim is noted for his integrity, professionalism, and, of course, Godly character.

jimturner2

Dr. Jim Turner is honored for his substantial contributions to improve others’ quality of life through chiropractic care.

I am thankful for God’s provision for me through my marriage to Dr. Jim Turner. We first met at church more than 27 years ago, and about ten years later my family and I became regular patients. When I was diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkins lymphoma in May 2004, Dr. Turner suggested I come in for chiropractic treatments twice a week. He said the treatments would help to keep my central nervous system moving. I give God glory as along with prayer and chiropractic adjustments, my body responded positively to the chemotherapy. Along with prayer, two surgeries, chemotherapy, and regular chiropractic care, God completely healed me of stage four cancer. Daily I continue to minister to leaders and abide in God’s strength.

jimsheryl1

Sheryl and husband, Jim, enjoy the sand and surf at Ventura, CA.

jimsheryl2

Sheryl and Jim now navigate life together.

I thank God for my total and complete healing from cancer. I am grateful to God for how he enabled the healing hands of my now husband, Dr. Jim Turner, to facilitate my wellness. Can you think of a person God has used in your life to facilitate your spiritual growth or encourage your healing? Tell me your story: sherylgiesbrecht@aol.com. I would love to hear about it.

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Show Love During Lent

lentlove

OK folks, it’s lent, not lint. Most of us have noticed the lent buzz has begun. And lent is not what you clean from your drier vent. Lent is talked about in the news; there are multiple Facebook suggestions, even social media solutions are offered. First, let’s define what lent is. Biblegateway.com offers this definition for lent:

“Lent is the span of time in the church calendar that starts with Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday commemorates the beginning of Jesus’ 40-day fasting and temptation in the desert, and Easter Sunday commemorates Jesus’ resurrection from the grave after his crucifixion.

Lent, then, is generally observed as a time for Christians to reflect, repent, and pray as a way of preparing their hearts for Easter. How does one observe Lent? Read this from Andy Rau, Senior Manager of Content, Biblegateway.org.

Lent is about love, our Savior’s love and sacrifice for us. Jesus literally became sin for us, so that we might have fellowship with the Heavenly Father. “God, the Father made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf.” 2 Corinthians 5:21. Jesus’ love covers a multitude of sin. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages (payment) of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

There is only one solution for the problem of separation from God. Some have tried to earn their way to heaven by working harder or being religious, but Hebrews 9:6 says, “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission (forgiveness) sins.” Jesus Christ is the only answer to the problem. He died on the Cross and rose from the grave, paying the penalty for our sin. He provided a way for us to have a relationship with God. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved _______ (and put your name in the blank) that He gave His only begotten son, that if ________ believes in Him, ________ should not perish, but have eternal life.”

How can we fall more deeply in love with our Savior? During the forty days of preparation time before Easter Sunday? How can we prepare ourselves to be amazed by celebration day of victory over death, when Jesus rose from the dead? As has become my tradition here on my blog, I will offer resources and suggestions as well as share what God leads me to do as my “love offering” to Him. I will be praying for you as we journey toward Resurrection Sunday morning.

One of my favorite resources for lent is:

40 Ideas for Lent 2015 (Rachel Held Evans)

We need to ask ourselves five questions:

  1. When I wake up on Resurrection Sunday morning, how will I be different? What am I preparing for?
  2. Is there something in my life—a habit, a grudge, a fear, a prejudice, an addition, an emotional barrier, a form of excess that keeps me from loving God with my heart, soul, mind and strength and loving my neighbor as myself? How might I address that over the next 40 days?
  3. Lent is a time to listen to God, but sometimes God speaks through others, particularly the poor, oppressed, marginalized, and suffering. To whom should I be listening this season? How can I cultivate a listening posture toward others whose perspective and experiences might differ from my own?
  4. Is there a spiritual discipline—praying the hours, lectio divina, the examen—that I’ve always wanted to try?  How might I alter my daily routine to include one of these disciplines?
  5. The cycle of death and resurrection is central to the Christian faith. In what ways is that cycle present in my life right now? Where might there be necessary change, suffering, death and decay, and how might new life emerge from those experiences?

So while you are letting this list for lent sink in, don’t think of it as a list for lent; think of it as how to show ‘love for lent.’ You might be thinking, I didn’t get to begin on the first day of lent, so I have to wait until next year. Not. Begin today. You do love Jesus, don’t you? Show him. Here’s an easy way to do this:

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 3.16.51 PM

Start in your closet; begin to purge and give away clothes. If you haven’t worn it in a year, you probably won’t wear it again. It’s time to unclutter your closet. When you start to dig, toss, sort and throw out, you will find this freeing concept will overflow to other areas.

On Wednesday February 10, I removed one item out of my closet each day. Since then, some days, I’ve unloaded up to ten items I don’t need, don’t care for any more, or, I have to honestly say, won’t wear. Some pieces are nearly brand new. (I’m embarrassed about my obsessive overindulgence, yet I’ve turned it around to think of the many who will be blessed by receiving my brand new clothes.)

I am showing and sharing love during lent. I’ve been so excited about making room in my closet; the practice has begun to infiltrate the drawers and cupboards in my bathroom and just yesterday, hit some areas in my home office. Wow, I can’t tell you how good it feels to face the areas of chaos and clutter. I’ve been a victim of my fear of letting go. Instead of caving into fear, I have chosen to show love during lent. What about you? I’ve learned this the hard way: You have to let go to take hold of something new. Maybe I should have read my Bible and let the truth transform my choice to show love?

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers I don not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But this one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-15

How will you choose to show love Jesus during lent?

Please check out my other blog, Transformed Through Truth. I am praying for you!

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Lasting Love

valentine-wallpaper

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow! How are you celebrating?

I wanted to share this post I found about the eight secrets to lasting love. This is a great read, no matter what your relationship status is!

Click here to read the post.

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Bind Up Broken Hearts

Bind Up Broken Hearts - FromAshesToBeauty.com

When I was little, I quickly learned what to do when I cut myself. Mom would say, “Apply direct pressure.” And even as a five year old, amateur cook, when I sliced my hand open cutting apples for a snack, with two fingers, I would press on the open wound. Within seconds, the bleeding would stop.

Bind Up Broken Hearts - FromAshesToBeauty.comA careless cut can wound us, yet sarcastic comments can cause misunderstandings and separate the closest friends. A broken heart is one of life’s most painful experiences. Even feelings of being overlooked or ignored in a classroom or work situation can provoke a similar state of mind. Those who have had our hearts broken by disappointment or loss know the anguish and helplessness of how it feels to nearly “bleed to death” emotionally. Jesus Christ is the one who, by the power of the Holy Spirit, applies the direct pressure of His presence and stops the life-draining blood loss. This is the only relief to heal a crushing hurt and relieve devastating disappointments.

Jesus came to heal broken hearts.

Isaiah 61:1 says “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted.”  The original word for bind up is “chavash,” meaning “to bind on, wrap around, to bind up as a wound, bandage or cover. Strong’s dictionary adds a visual definition: “to compress, to stop.”

When our hearts are broken, we feel vulnerable and helpless emotionally. We must trust God to put the pieces of our hearts together, to close up the wounds and bind them with the bandage of grace. Will you exchange your bondage of unforgiveness for His bandage of grace? I hope so.

Let’s Pray

“Heavenly Father, we ask for your healing for our wounds. We plead the blood of Jesus over each and every hurt inflicted on us. Thank you for the healing you offer through the presence of your love and grace. Thank you for binding up our broken hearts and healing our wounds. Let our scars become a testimony of your power. In Jesus’ Name, Amen”

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God’s Father-Heart

Sheryl celebrates Fathers Day 2013 with her Dad

Father’s Day has just passed. I honored my own father, who lives a five-hour drive away, by sending a card and calling him to tell him I love him. I was able to esteem the memory my late husband, the father of my children, by placing a special bouquet of sunflowers on his grave. I appreciated my new husband, Jim, the father of four children, by barbecuing a special meal. I praised and thanked my Heavenly Father on this day, for His blessings to me, his daughter. 

I love the name of God, Father. Did you know, it is a distinguishing title for God in the New Testament? 2 Corinthians 6:18 says, “And I will be a Father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to me says the Lord God almighty.” Romans 8:15–16 says, “But you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we call out ABBA FATHER.” The God of Heaven is our Father. 

Father GodThe OT Jews did not think of God as an intimate Father. He was a whirlwind of fire, a fearful God, punishing the sinner. The Lord God of the OT was to be feared because he represented judgement. God killed Uzziah when he reached out and touched the Ark and even punished Moses for disobedience; in fact, Moses never entered the Promised Land. Hebrews 12:29 says, “Our God is a consuming fire.” Scary, huh? Far from Father-like.

Understanding the father-heart of God is important because often our own relationship with our earthly father might be messed up. The personal views and emotional feelings toward our own earthly fathers can cloud our image of our Heavenly Father.  If you have experienced a dysfunctional family or emotional or physical abuse, you might view your God through this grid. It’s essential to seek the truth about God the Father and to believe it. 

In Luke 15, there was a father who had two sons.  The father was a man who gave all to his son because of love. The prodigal son asked for his rightful part of his inheritance, which was one-third of it. In doing so, the son insulted his upbringing, his father, and his family name. Because of his father’s love, he was given what he asked for. In no time at all, he spent the money but in the end was more dissatisfied than ever. 

prodigal-podcast-1[1]In Luke 15:7, the son has a truth encounter. ”When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, At home, even the hired men have food enough to spare and here I am, dying of hunger.” Imagine the young prodigal’s state; he had left the security of the family home, after bugging his father to hand over his inheritance. He squandered his wealth on wild living, ended up working in a pig sty. Homeless, hungry, dirty, and humiliated, he comes to the end of his resources and decides to return home. Ashamed, humbled, filthy, broke, and guilty, he was compelled to confess to his father the mess he had made. The prodigal son in Luke 15:19 says, “I will get up and go to my father and I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, I am no longer worthy to be called your son, make me as one of your hired men.” He decided to repent and return home to his father. 

The father was waiting for him. The father saw him coming. He had been anticipating the return of his wayward son. He hoped his son would return home and had waited and watched daily, always on the look out for him. This was why he saw him when he was still a long way off. The waiting Father is a beautiful picture for those who believe in Jesus for the first time, but it is also meaningful for those of us who have long considered ourselves his children, yet still prone to sin. Romans 7:18–19 says, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of good is not. For the good that I wish, I do not do, but I practice the very evil I do not wish.” We are prone to live frivolous lives, squandering the benefits and neglecting the responsibilities of living in the Father’s household. 

the-prodigal-son1[1]What about you? Have you wondered if the Father has turned his back on you? Our Father is a father who waits, watching, anticipating our return. He waits for us to get serious about repentance, service, and worship of Him. Romans 2:4 says, “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kingdom in forbearance and patience, no knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance.” Believe your Heavenly Father is waiting for you to come back to Him.

Let’s pray: “Heavenly Father, help us to know you as Father-God who always loves, heals, and forgives. Thank you for welcoming us home every time we stray; you wait with open arms. Help us love others with your father-heart. Thank you for restoring relationships, renewing our faith and refreshing our love for you. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

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Surprised by Love

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“No one is more surprised than I am,” I said to a good friend as she congratulated Jim and me on our recent engagement. I am amazed, stunned, and, of course, excited. Jim and I have watched God’s hand bring us together, slowly. We’ve known each other twenty-five years, with regular friendly contact for the past fifteen while married to our late spouses. But now, we are just getting acquainted with each other in this new relationship. We have taken time to get familiar with each other in our exclusive relationship. Are you single, dating, or waiting on your Boaz? Give yourself time. Give God time. Don’t force anything.

Max Lucado says, “A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her.” The best thing you can do to prepare yourself for your Boaz is to draw close to God, spend time with Him daily, feed on His word, and talk to Him in prayer. Like getting into a serious dating relationship, we must be intentional and direct in our relationship with God. Someone once said, “If you fail to plan, you will plan to fail.” Figure out when you will meet, how you will meet and what the content of your meeting with God will contain.

“But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.” Psalm 73:28

Blog #2 - Our Love Story

When Jim and I began dating, we visited my counselor, Dr. H Norman Wright, who recommended we work through his book 101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Re-Married. It took us five months to answer the discussion questions. We worked through subjects common to marriage: schedules, finances, eating and recreational habits, family, holidays, ministry, and sex. Although we were both widowed and healing from the loss of our spouses, neither one of us looking for committed love, just companionship. At first we were guarded in sharing our feelings, not wanting a relationship to fill the empty spot only God can fill. So we became friends with caution, neither one wanting to fall into a superficial rebound relationship with another human being. We were merely looking to serve God and each other. Isn’t that what biblical love is all about?

What is true biblical, sacrificial love? God shows us His example in how He loves us. Love is giving, not getting, with God’s love being the basis and the example for the ultimate expression of our love. God gave His only Son. “For God so loved the world, He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”(John 3:16). The Lord Jesus Christ gave His life as a sacrifice on your behalf—”who gave Himself as a ransom for all men”(I Timothy 2:6). To demonstrate His love, Jesus served others even though He is Master” John 13:1 b. “Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love” John 13:5. “After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with a towel that was wrapped around Him.”

The Biblical Counseling Foundation defines “love in Scripture” as a “purposeful commitment to sacrificial action for another.” Commitment of the will is the anchor that grounds love, although powerful emotions may be part of the action, but the choice to love in a biblical manner is the hallmark of a disciple of Christ. It is how our Heavenly Father loves us. This love is expressed through the Lord Jesus Christ.

lucilleballsurprise[1]Think about your family members, friends, and co-workers God has placed in your life—do you love them through serving? Or are you giving to get? This is not biblical love. Each day God gives us opportunities to show His love, to love others through serving them. We don’t have to do it alone; we have the Holy Spirit’s power to infuse the love of God into us. “Because the one who is in you is greater than the One who is in the world” I John 4:4. Do you need help loving? Ask God for help; He can fill you with His love. “But he said to me ‘my grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness” I Corinthians 12:9. Choose to love God more than anyone else, and He will give you more love than you ever thought you were able to give. I love the example of Mother Teresa, who, as she served the poor in the slums of Calcutta, India, said, “I want to love God like He’s never been loved before.” Now that’s biblical, sacrificial love.

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